She was the youngest among 12 siblings in her family. I am not sure how small is her house back then, but it does sounded that everyone cramped into one small rented house.
If I didn't feel like finishing my dinner, she will tell me that her mom used to made watery porrige or adding corn to the rice to feed the households.
If I was bored with my toy, she will tell me that she almost have no toys, and those that she had has passed by generation her eldest sister so you could imagine how it looks.
If I was lazy to study for my exam, she will tell me that most of her elder siblings has no chance for education, they had to work to help adding income to the family with the hope that their youngest siblings will make it through university (which did come to reality as my mom and one of his brother graduated as physician).
I can see that whatever she said had shape my mindset towards certain things. Even though I grew up quite nomad (yes my parents does not have their own house to stay until I was close to 10 years old) in some rural area in Java, I count myself much more fortunate than my mom. I always have enough food, new clothing, enough toys, and never worried that my parents could not pay my school fee.
I was in a terrible shock when I arrive in UK. People here just merely complain about ANYTHING, weather, tax, education, bla bla bla... I did question "why?", and the answer is pretty obvious, the country and their government had spoilt them way too much. Government build council houses, homeless sheds, paying disablity benefits (apparently nut alergies is disability here), paying child benefits, giving free medical, free education, even to the point of paying portion of your mortgage when you lost your job!
Where I came from, hospital, doctor and medicine has never been free, even when we pay tax! I remembered this conversation while helping my mom attending a diabetic patient (yes, this is a 10 year old get her pocket money, helping in the clinic)
My mom : Mrs XXX, this is your medication, take it once a day. Remember try to strict your diet according to what I've said earlier. And we'll see you in 3 months time. *putting the bill on the table*
Mrs XXX : *frantically open her wallet and makes no remarks, but she
didn't put the money on the table*
My mom : Well, just pay me with what you have. I understand many of my diabetic patient had to come often for medication, and it can be very expensive.
Mrs XXX : *pause for a moment*
Thank you doctor, I don't know how to repay your kindness. Surely you can't
do this everytime to everybody.
My mom : *Smile and said...*
Just remember to takecare of your health, and remember my instruction, that'll do.
Almost everymonth, my house is flooded with gifts from dozen of patient who suffer the same fate as Mrs XXX. It can be fruits, food even to life stock as chicken and ducks. People in Indonesia may have to live in a hut, don't know how to write or read, yet know what gratitude means.
Here in UK, the teenager has every chance to go to university (education is free until 18 years old), the government give them loan, tuition grant, which can be paid when you find job in the future, but yet most of them never has the courage and perseverance to bear 4 years in university.
(And those who make it to top university decided to do this....)
(Above is the picture I took while travelling in Cambridge)
The result? most of company in UK need to hire foreigner for executive job because not many Brits qualified for it. And guess what, the brits does not like their country being invaded by polish, indian, pakistani and call for a strike! What an irony, a country this rich has people who are lazy and greedy.
If only they could swap a month on the shoes of Mrs XXX, they will came back as a different person.